Running near the famous

by david on August 4, 2009

Mississippi last week for work. Rhode Island this week (and next). Vacation is on. I’ve already had dinner with Finally Running’s Susie and run a race with the Running Chick in the Orange Hat.

After a late flight Friday night I was up and at ’em Saturday morning to hit the road down to New London, Connecticut for my second running of the John Kelley Ocean Beach 11.6 Mile Road Race. I ran it last year with Dianna and we did it again. I have to tell you that Dianna has fallen victim to fashion. Her orange hat did not go with her running outfit so she was wearing a Live Strong black hat. Have you ever …..?

The race is novel in many respects: first, it’s free to run (386 finishers). The distance is odd. It’s been held for 46 years, named after the renowned American runner John Kelley who won Boston many years ago. He was there at the start line to say a few words. It starts and finishes at Ocean Beach, a popular regional getaway on hot New England summer days. And Mrs. Connecticut was there to share some meaningless words of inspiration, which were distinctly remote from what goes through your head at a start line. She should have stuck with wearing a bathing suit. 

I parked in the same place as last year and saw Dianna and her friend prepping for a seven mile warm-up. I declined her invitation to join them. I remembered how she ran me ragged last year and feared for having only  so much energy after the long flight and short sleep.

I hung out around the start line listening in on all the chatter from members of a runners club of 70 some guys and gals who run as the Rat Racers. They were perusing the race standings posted on the snack bar wall of their club members after two races of a 20 race season. The races are held all over New England throughout the year which lends itself to a fun running road-trip lifestyle. The distances are everything from 5K to marathon including a finale nude run in June. You get bonus points for running naked from the ankles up in any race and bonus points for running any of six extra races like the February race on Martha’s Vineyard. The members were certainly a jocular bunch. I think I’d be a member if I lived here.

Oh yeah. The Race.  I took off at a 9:30-ish pace and approached each mile less and less like a training run and more and more like a race. It was hot in the sun and cool in the shade. Hilly by Florida standards but more like moguls to the locals. I ran the tangents on the roads despite the fact that they were open to traffic (remember, it’s a free race).

After two miles I can’t remember a single person passing me until Mile 8. I was picking folks off left and right. At 8 miles a tall young woman in blue took me on a hill and I was shocked because I was moving pretty good. I fell in on her heels to see what I could do. There were a few occasions, at water stops, on tangents and when her BF rode up on a bike and kissed her, that I pulled in front of her.

Miss Blue would have none of that and retook the lead each time. I stayed on her heels up to Mile 11 where I realized she was pulling me at a sub-9:00 pace which explained my sense of spentness. I kept plugging the last 0.6 mile but couldn’t keep up with her kick. I thought that late stretch of chasing her was the best part of the race, since I was able to exceed my expectations. I finished in 1:48:47 which was about four minutes faster than last year. Sadly, I was next to last in my age group of 15, which tells me the Rat Racers are a speedy bunch.

I had two bowls of clam chow-dah and a coke at the post-race party, chatting with Dianna and two of her girl friends. I also ran into a running couple, Clay and Amy, from up here in Shelter Harbor. We took pictures, compared notes and visited before heading to the beach. It was plenty warm enough to go in the ocean which I started to do, mindful that these were not Florida waters and probably about 65 degrees. It took some calculated wading to get in all the way but, as hot as the air was (mid 80s), I went all in.

I left around 11:45, headed back to the house, running into some of the worst beach traffic I’ve ever seen. As lousy a summer as they’ve had here, this day was one not to miss.

I picked up Mrs. T and we went down to the cabana club in Watch Hill and laid on the beach until 7:30. On the way home we dropped in on some summer friends, only to find (FR) Susie and David there sipping wine while Laura, David and Eleanor were preparing a dinner. They insisted we stay and join them, which pretty much put a big cherry on top of a perfect Day 1 of vacation.

Ed August 12, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Still chasing skirts at your age! Tsk, Tsk. Sounds like fun! See you back in Winter Park soon.

Runner Susan August 12, 2009 at 12:40 pm

FYI, I’m commenting at the water park and my iPhone doesn’t like getting wet

Runner Susan August 12, 2009 at 12:39 pm

I’m still not passed the no orange hat bit, but it sounds as if blue was your color this race! Nice finish David. Sou ds line a perfect first day of vacation!

Joe August 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Nice race. Hadn’t seen Di’s report yet. And no orange hat??? What is the world coming to??

Enjoy the vacation!

jeanne August 7, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Ditto what Jon said! What a sweet start to a vacation. You smoked that race!

No orange hat…what????? Scandalous. Love to susie and david…and dana!

jeff August 5, 2009 at 6:35 pm

nice effort at the finish!

what’s the deal with flipperhead? i think we need to send her some new orange hats.

Jon (was) in Michigan August 4, 2009 at 11:21 am

Susan and Dianna? Damn. I am indeed jealous!

Darrell August 4, 2009 at 8:41 am

Not too shabby for Day 1 of the vacation. Nicely done and way to go on the PR.

Looks like Running Chick is wearing all manner of colored hats these days.

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